Romans 8


The happy state of those who believe in Christ, and walk under

the influence of his Spirit, 1, 2.

The design of God in sending his Son into the world was to

redeem men from sin, 3, 4.

The miserable state of the carnally minded, 6-8.

How Christ lives and works in his followers; their blessedness

here, and their happiness hereafter, 9-17.

Sufferings are the common lot of all men; and from which

Gentiles and Jews have the hope of being finally delivered,


The use and importance of hope, 24, 25.

The Spirit makes intercession for the followers of Christ,

26, 27.

All things work together for good to them that love God, and

who act according to his gracious purpose in calling them, 28.

The means used to bring men to eternal glory, 29, 30.

The great blessedness, confidence, and security of all genuine

Christians, whom, while they hold fast faith and a good

conscience, nothing can separate from the love of God, 31-39.


Verse 1. There is, therefore, now no condemnation] To do

justice to St. Paul's reasoning, this chapter must be read in the

closest connection with the preceding. There we have seen the

unavailing struggles of an awakened Jew, who sought pardon and

holiness from that law which he was conscious he had broken; and

in which he could find no provision for pardon, and no power to

sanctify. This conviction having brought him to the very brink of

despair, and, being on the point of giving up all hope, he hears

of redemption by Jesus Christ, thanks God for the prospect he has

of salvation, applies for and receives it; and now magnifies God

for the unspeakable gift of which he has been made a partaker.

Those who restrain the word now, so as to indicate by it the

Gospel dispensation only, do not take in the whole of the

apostles meaning. The apostle has not been dealing in general

matters only, but also in those which are particular. He has not

been pointing out merely the difference between the two

dispensations, the Mosaic and the Christian; but he marks out the

state of a penitent under the former, and that of a believer under

the latter. The last chapter closed with an account of the deep

distress of the penitent; this one opens with an account of his

salvation. The now, therefore, in the text, must refer more to

the happy transition from darkness to light, from condemnation to

pardon, which this believer now enjoys, than to the Christian

dispensation taking the place of the Jewish economy.

Who walk not after the flesh, &c.] In this one verse we find

the power and virtue of the Gospel scheme; it pardons and

sanctifies; the Jewish law could do neither. By faith in our Lord

Jesus Christ the penitent, condemned by the law, is pardoned; the

carnal man, labouring under the overpowering influence of the sin

of his nature, is sanctified. He is first freely justified; he

feels no condemnation; he is fully sanctified; he walks not after

the FLESH, but after the SPIRIT.

This last clause is wanting in the principal MSS., versions,

and fathers. Griesbach has excluded it from the text; and Dr.

White says, Certissime delenda; it should most undoubtedly be

expunged. Without it, the passage reads thus: There is,

therefore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus; for

the law of the Spirit of life, &c. It is a fairly assumed point,

that those who are in Christ Jesus, who believe in his name, have

redemption in his blood; are made partakers of his Spirit, and

have the mind in them that was in him; will not walk after the

flesh, but after the Spirit: therefore the thing itself is

included in the being in Christ, whether it be expressed or not:

and it was probably to make the thing more obvious, that this

explanatory clause was added by some copyist, for it does not

appear to have made an original part of the text; and it is most

likely that it was inserted here from the fourth verse.

Verse 2. For the law of the Spirit of life] The Gospel of the

grace of Christ, which is not only a law or rule of life, but

affords that sovereign energy by which guilt is removed from the

conscience, the power of sin broken, and its polluting influence

removed from the heart. The law was a spirit of death, by which

those who were under it were bound down, because of their sin, to

condemnation and death. The Gospel proclaims Jesus the Saviour;

and what the law bound unto death, IT looses unto life eternal.

And thus the apostle says, whether of himself or the man whom he

is still personating, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ

Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Most

people allow that St. Paul is here speaking of his own state; and

this state is so totally different from that described in the

preceding chapter, that it is absolutely impossible that they

should have been the state of the same being, at one and the same

time. No creature could possibly be carnal, sold under sin,

brought into captivity to the law of sin and death; and at the

same time be made free from that law of sin and death, by the law

of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus! Until the most palpable

absurdities and contradictions can be reconciled, these two

opposite states can never exist in the same person at the same


Verse 3. For what the law could not do] The law could not

pardon; the law could not sanctify; the law could not dispense

with its own requisitions; it is the rule of righteousness, and

therefore must condemn unrighteousness. This is its unalterable

nature. Had there been perfect obedience to its dictates, instead

of condemning, it would have applauded and rewarded; but as the

flesh, the carnal and rebellious principle, had prevailed, and

transgression had taken place, it was rendered weak, inefficient

to undo this word of the flesh, and bring the sinner into a state

of pardon and acceptance with God.

God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh] Did

that which the law could not do; i.e. purchased pardon for the

sinner, and brought every believer into the favour of God. And

this is effected by the incarnation of Christ: He, in whom dwelt

the fulness of the Godhead bodily, took upon him the likeness of

sinful flesh, that is, a human body like ours, but not sinful as

ours; and for sin, καιπεριαμαρτιας, and as a SACRIFICE FOR SIN,

(this is the sense of the word in a multitude of places,)

condemned sin in the flesh-condemned that to death and destruction

which had condemned us to both.

Condemned sin in the flesh] The design and object of the

incarnation and sacrifice of Christ was to condemn sin, to have it

executed and destroyed; not to tolerate it as some think, or to

render it subservient to the purposes of his grace, as others; but

to annihilate its power, guilt, and being in the soul of a


Verse 4. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled

in us] That the guilt might be pardoned through the merit of that

sacrifice; and that we might be enabled, by the power of his own

grace and Spirit, to walk in newness of life; loving God with all

our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbour as

ourselves: and thus the righteousness, the spirit, design, and

purpose of the law is fulfilled in us, through the strength of the

Spirit of Christ, which is here put in opposition to the weakness

of the law through the flesh.

It is very likely that the concluding clause of this verse,

which is the very same as that found in the common text of the

first verse, has been transferred to that verse from this place.

Verse 5. For they that are after the flesh] And here is the

great distinction between Jews and genuine Christians: the former

are after the flesh-are under the power of the carnal, rebellious

principle; and consequently mind, προνουσιν, relish, the things of

the flesh-the things which appertain merely to the present life;

having no relish for spiritual and eternal things.

But they that are after the Spirit] They who are regenerated,

who are born of the Spirit, being redeemed from the influence and

law of the carnal mind; these relish the things of the Spirit-they

are spiritually minded, and pass through things temporal, so as

not to lose the things which are eternal. And this, which in

these apostolic times distinguished between the carnal Jew and the

spiritual believer in Christ, is the grand mark of distinction

between the nominal and the real Christian now. The former is

earthly minded, and lives for this world; the latter is

spiritually minded, and lives for the world to come.

Verse 6. For to be carnally minded is death] To live under

the influence of the carnal mind is to live in the state of

condemnation, and consequently liable to death eternal: whereas,

on the contrary, he who is spiritually minded has the life and

peace of God in his soul, and is in full prospect of life eternal.

Verse 7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God] Because

it is a carnal mind, and relishes earthly and sinful things, and

lives in opposition to the pure and holy law of God: therefore, it

is enmity against God; it is irreconcilable and implacable hatred.

It is not subject to the law of God] It will come under no

obedience; for it is sin, and the very principle of rebellion; and

therefore it cannot be subject, nor subjected; for it is essential

to sin to show itself in rebellion; and when it ceases to rebel,

it ceases to be sin.

From this we learn that the design of God in the economy of the

Gospel, is not to weaken, curtail, or lay the carnal principle in

bonds, but to destroy it. As it is not subject, and cannot be

subject, to the law of God, it must be destroyed, else it will

continue to rebel against God. It cannot be mended, or rendered

less offensive in its nature, even by the operations of God; it is

ever sin, and sin is ever enmity; and enmity, wherever it has

power, will invariably show itself in acts of hostility and


Verse 8. So then] Because this carnal mind is enmity against

God, they that are in the flesh-who are under the power of the

workings of this carnal mind, (which every soul is that has not

received redemption in the blood of the Lamb,)-

Cannot please God.] Because of the rebellious workings of this

principle of rebellion and hatred. And, if they cannot please

God, they must be displeasing to him; and consequently in the

broad road to final perdition.

Verse 9. But ye are not in the flesh] Ye Christians, who have

believed in Christ Jesus as the sin offering which has condemned

sin in the flesh; and, having been justified by faith and made

partakers of the Holy Spirit, are enabled to walk in newness of


If so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.] Or seeing that,

ειπερ, the Spirit of God dwelleth in you. The flesh, the sinful

principle, dwelt in them before; and its motions were the proofs

of its indwelling; but now the Spirit dwells in them; and its

testimony in their conscience, and its powerful operations in

their hearts, are the proofs of its indwelling. God made man in

union with himself, and his heart was his temple. Sin being

committed, the temple was defiled, and God abandoned it. Jesus

Christ is come by his sacrifice and Spirit to cleanse the temple,

and make man again a habitation of God through the Spirit. And

when this almighty Spirit again makes the heart his residence,

then the soul is delivered from the moral effects of the fall.

And that this is absolutely necessary to our present peace and

final salvation is proved from this: that if any man have not the

Spirit of Christ-the mind that was in him, produced there by the

power of the Holy Ghost-he is none of his; he does not belong to

the kingdom, flock, or family of God. This is an awful

conclusion! Reader, lay it to heart.

Verse 10. And if Christ be in you, &c.] This is the criterion

by which you may judge of the state of grace in which ye stand.

If Christ dwell in your hearts by faith, the body is dead because

of sin, διαμαρτιαν, in reference to sin; the members of your

body no more perform the work of sin than the body of a dead man

does the functions of natural life. Or the apostle may mean, that

although, because of sin, the life of man is forfeited; and the

sentence, dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return, must be

fulfilled on every human being, until the judgment of the great

day; yet, their souls being quickened by the indwelling Spirit of

Christ, which enables them to live a life of righteousness, they

receive a full assurance that their bodies, which are now

condemned to death because of sin, shall be raised again to a life

of immortal glory.

Verse 11. But if the Spirit, &c.] This verse confirms the

sense given to the preceding. He who here receives the grace and

Spirit of Christ, and continues to live under its influence a life

of obedience to the Divine will, shall have a resurrection to

eternal life; and the resurrection of Christ shall be the pattern

after which they shall be raised.

By his Spirit that dwelleth in you.] Instead of διατου

ενοικουντοςαυτουπνευματος, because of the Spirit of him who

dwelleth in you, DEFG, a great many others, with the Vulgate,

Itala, and several of the fathers, have διατοενοικουναυτου

πνευμα, which gives almost no variety of meaning. The latter may

be neater Greek, but it is not better sense than the preceding.

Verse 12. Therefore, brethren, &c.] Dr. Taylor is of opinion

that the apostle having spoken separately, both to Jews and

Gentiles, concerning holiness and the obligations to it, now

addresses himself to both conjointly, and,

I. Draws the general conclusion from all his arguments upon

this subject, Ro 8:12.

II. Proves the validity of their claims to eternal life,

Ro 8:14-17.

III. And as the affair of suffering persecution was a great

stumbling block to the Jews, and might very much discourage the

Gentiles, he introduces it to the best advantage, Ro 8:17, and

advances several arguments to fortify their minds under all

trials: as-(1.) That they suffered with Christ; (2.) In order to

be glorified with him in a manner which will infinitely compensate

all sufferings, Ro 8:17, 18. (3.) All mankind are under

various pressures, longing for a better state, Ro 8:19-22.

(4.) Many of the most eminent Christians are in the same

distressed condition, Ro 8:23. (5.) According to the plan of the

Gospel, we are to be brought to glory after a course of patience

exercised in a variety of trials, Ro 8:24, 25. (6.) The Spirit

of God will supply patience to every upright soul under

persecution and suffering, Ro 8:26, 27. (7.) All things, even

the severest trials, shall work together for their good, Ro 8:28.

And this he proves, by giving us a view of the several steps which

the wisdom and goodness of God have settled, in order to our

complete salvation, Ro 8:29, 30. Thence he passes to the affair

of our perseverance; concerning which he concludes, from the whole

of his preceding arguments, that as we are brought into a state of

pardon by the free grace of God, through the death of Christ, who

is now our mediator in heaven; no possible cause, providing we

continue to love and serve God, shall be able to pervert our

minds, or separate us from his love in Christ Jesus, Ro 8:31-39.

Therefore, αραουν is the grand inference from all that he has

been arguing in relation to sanctity of life, both to the

Gentiles, chap. 6, and to the Jews, chap. 7, and 8, to this verse,

where I suppose he begins to address himself to both, in a body,

to the end of the chapter.-Taylor, page 317.

Verse 13. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die]

Though μελλετεαποθνησκειν may mean, ye shall afterwards die, and

this seems to indicate a temporal death, yet not exclusively of an

eternal death; for both, and especially the latter, are

necessarily implied.

But if ye through the Spirit] If ye seek that grace and

spiritual help which the Gospel of Christ furnishes, resist, and,

by resisting, mortify the deeds of the flesh, against which the

law gave you no assistance, ye shall live a life of faith, love,

and holy obedience here, and a life of glory hereafter.

Verse 14. For as many as are led by the Spirit, &c.] No man

who has not Divine assistance can either find the way to heaven,

or walk in it when found. As Christ, by his sacrificial offering,

has opened the kingdom of God to all believers; and, as a

mediator, transacts the concerns of their kingdom before the

throne; so the Spirit of God is the great agent here below, to

enlighten, quicken, strengthen, and guide the true disciples of

Christ; and all that are born of this Spirit are led and guided by

it; and none can pretend to be the children of God who are not

thus guided.

Verse 15. Ye have not received the spirit of bondage] All

that were under the law were under bondage to its rites and

ceremonies; and as, through the prevalence of that corrupt nature

with which every human being is polluted, and to remove which the

law gave no assistance, they were often transgressing,

consequently they had forfeited their lives, and were continually,

through fear of death, subject to bondage, Heb 2:15. The

believers in Christ Jesus were brought from under that law, and

from under its condemnation; and, consequently, were freed from

its bondage. The Gentiles were also in a state of bondage as well

as the Jews, they had also a multitude of burdensome rites and

ceremonies, and a multitude of deities to worship; nor could they

believe themselves secure of protection while one of their almost

endless host of gods, celestial, terrestrial, or infernal, was

left unpropitiated.

But ye have received the Spirit of adoption] Ye are brought

into the family of God by adoption; and the agent that brought you

into this family is the Holy Spirit; and this very Spirit

continues to witness to you the grace in which ye stand, by

enabling you to call God your Father, with the utmost filial

confidence and affection.

The Spirit of adoption] Adoption was an act frequent among the

ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans; by which a person was taken

out of one family and incorporated with another. Persons of

property, who had no children of their own, adopted those of

another family. The child thus adopted ceased to belong to his

own family, and was in every respect bound to the person who had

adopted him, as if he were his own child; and in consequence of

the death of his adopting father he possessed his estates. If a

person after he had adopted a child happened to have children of

his own, then the estate was equally divided between the adopted

and real children. The Romans had regular forms of law, by which

all these matters were settled.-See in Aulus Gellius. Noctes

Attic., vol. i. cap. xix. p. 331. Edit Beloe; and the note there.

Whereby we cry, Abba, Father.] The reason why the Syriac and

Greek words are here conjoined, may be seen in the note on

Mr 14:36, to which the reader is referred. The introduction of

the words here shows that the persons in question had the

strongest evidence of the excellence of the state in which they

stood; they knew that they were thus adopted; and they knew this

by the Spirit of God which was given them on their adoption; and

let me say, they could know it by no other means. The Father who

had adopted them could be seen by no mortal eye; and the

transaction being purely of a spiritual nature, and transacted in

heaven, can be known only by God's supernatural testimony of it

upon earth. It is a matter of such solemn importance to every

Christian soul, that God in his mercy has been pleased not to leave

it to conjecture, assumption, or inductive reasoning; but attests

it by his own Spirit in the soul of the person whom he adopts

through Christ Jesus. It is the grand and most observable case in

which the intercourse is kept up between heaven and earth; and the

genuine believer in Christ Jesus is not left to the quibbles or

casuistry of polemic divines or critics, but receives the thing,

and the testimony of it, immediately from God himself. And were

not the testimony of the state thus given, no man could possibly

have any assurance of his salvation which would beget confidence

and love. If to any man his acceptance with God be hypothetical,

then his confidence must be so too. His love to God must be

hypothetical, his gratitude hypothetical, and his obedience also.

IF God had forgiven me my sins, then I should love him, and I

should be grateful, and I should testify this gratitude by

obedience. But who does not see that these must necessarily

depend on the IF in the first case. All this uncertainty, and the

perplexities necessarily resulting from it, God has precluded by

sending the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, by which we cry,

Abba, Father: and thus our adoption into the heavenly family is

testified and ascertained to us in the only way in which it can

possibly be done, by the direct influence of the Spirit of God.

Remove this from Christianity, and it is a dead letter.

It has been remarked that slaves were not permitted to use the

term Abba, father, or Imma, mother, in accosting their masters

and mistresses. The Hebrew canon, relative to this, is extant in

the tract Berachoth, fol. 16. 2,

haabadim vehashshephachoth ein korin

otham, lo Abba N, velo Imma N. Men-servants and maid-servants do

not call to their master Abba, (father,) N. nor to their mistress

Imma, (mother,) N. And from this some suppose that the apostle

intimates that being now brought from under the spirit of bondage,

in which they durst not call God their Father, they are not only

brought into a new state, but have got that language which is

peculiar to that state. It is certain that no man who has not

redemption in the blood of the cross has any right to call God

Father, but merely as he may be considered the Father of the

spirits of all flesh.

Some have supposed that the apostle, by using the Syriac and

Greek words which express Father, shows the union of Jewish and

Gentile believers in those devotions which were dictated by a

filial spirit. Others have thought that these were the first

words which those generally uttered who were made partakers of the

Holy Spirit. It is enough to know that it was the language of

their sonship, and that it expressed the clear assurance they had

of being received into the Divine favour, the affection and

gratitude they felt for this extraordinary blessing, and their

complete readiness to come under the laws and regulations of the

family, and to live in the spirit of obedience.

Verse 16. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit]

αυτοτοπνευμα, that same Spirit, the Spirit of adoption; that

is, the Spirit who witnesses this adoption; which can be no other

than the Holy Ghost himself, and certainly cannot mean any

disposition or affection of mind which the adopted person may

feel; for such a disposition must arise from a knowledge of this

adoption, and the knowledge of this adoption cannot be given by

any human or earthly means; it must come from God himself:

therefore the αυτοτοπνευμα must have reference to that Spirit,

by whom alone the knowledge of the adoption is witnessed to the

soul of the believer.

With our spirit] In our understanding, the place or recipient

of light and information; and the place or faculty to which such

information can properly be brought. This is done that we may

have the highest possible evidence of the work which God has

wrought. As the window is the proper medium to let the light of

the sun into our apartments, so the understanding is the proper

medium of conveying the Spirit's influence to the soul. We,

therefore, have the utmost evidence of the fact of our adoption

which we can possibly have; we have the word and Spirit of God;

and the word sealed on our spirit by the Spirit of God. And this

is not a momentary influx: if we take care to walk with God, and

not grieve the Holy Spirit, we shall have an abiding testimony;

and while we continue faithful to our adopting Father, the Spirit

that witnesses that adoption will continue to witness it; and

hereby we shall know that we are of God by the Spirit which he

giveth us.

Verse 17. And if children, then heirs] For the legitimate

children can alone inherit the estate. This is not an estate to

which they succeed in consequence of the death of a former

possessor; it is like the promised land, given by God himself, and

divided among the children of the family.

Heirs of God] It is neither an earthly portion nor a heavenly

portion; but GOD himself, who is to be their portion. It is not

heaven they are to inherit; it is GOD, who is infinitely greater

and more glorious than heaven itself. With such powers has God

created the soul of man, that nothing less than himself can be a

sufficient and satisfactory portion for the mind of this most

astonishing creature.

Joint heirs with Christ] Partaking of the same eternal glory

with the glorified human nature of Christ.

If so be that we suffer with him] Observe, says Dr. Taylor,

how prudently the apostle advances to the harsh affair of

suffering. He does not mention it till he had raised up their

thoughts to the highest object of joy and pleasure-the happiness

and glory of a joint inheritance with the ever-blessed Son of God.

We are heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, if so

be that we suffer with him. This, with the additional

consideration that we suffer with Christ, or, as he himself

suffered, would greatly qualify the transitory afflictions of this

world, and dispose them to attend to the other arguments he had to


Verse 18. For I reckon that the sufferings, &c.] If the glory

that is to be revealed be the enjoyment of God himself, (see

above,) then the sufferings of this life, which, when compared

with eternity, are but as for a moment, are not worthy to be put

in competition with this glory which shall be revealed in us.

This case is perfectly clear.

Verse 19. For the earnest expectation of the creature] There

is considerable difficulty in this and the four following verses:

and the difficulty lies chiefly in the meaning of the word

ηκτισις, which we translate the creature, and creation. Some

think that by it the brute creation is meant; others apply it to

the Jewish people; others to the godly; others to the Gentiles;

others to the good angels; and others to the fallen spirits, both

angelic and human. Dissertations without end have been written on

it; and it does not appear that the Christian world are come to

any general agreement on the subject. Dr. Lightfoot's mode of

explanation appears to me to be the best, on the whole. "There

is," says he, "a twofold key hanging at this place, which may

unlock the whole, and make the sense plain and easy.

1. The first is the phrase, πασαηκτισις, which we render the

whole creation, Ro 8:22, and with which we meet twice elsewhere

in the New Testament. Mr 16:15:

Preach the Gospel, πασητηκτισει, to every creature; and

Col 1:23:

The Gospel was preached, ενπασητηκτισει, to every creature.

Now it is sufficiently apparent what is meant by πασακτισις in

both these places, viz. all nations, or the heathen world. For

that which in St. Mark is, preach the Gospel to every creature,

is, in St. Matthew, go and teach, πανταταεθνη, all nations.

And this very phrase in this place lays claim to that very

interpretation. And the Hebrew col habberioth, which

answers to the Greek πασαηκτισις, every creature, is applied by

the Jews to the Gentiles, and that by way of opposition to Israel.

2. The second key is the word ματαιοτητι, Ro 8:20, which is

not unfitly rendered vanity; but then this vanity is improperly

applied to the vanishing, dying, changing state of the creation.

For ματαιοτης, vanity, does not so much denote the vanishing

condition of the outward state, as it does the inward vanity or

emptiness of the mind. So the apostle, speaking of the Gentiles

concerning whom he speaks here, tells us εματαιωθησαν, They became

vain in their imaginations, Ro 1:21; and again,

The Gentiles walk ενματαιοτητι, in the vanity of their mind,

Eph 4:17; so also,

The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, οτιεισιματαιοι, that

they are vain, 1Co 3:20. To all which let me add this farther

observation, that throughout this whole place the apostle seems to

allude to the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt, and their

deliverance from it; with a comparison made betwixt the Jewish and

the Gentile Church. When God would deliver Israel from his

bondage, he challenges him for his Son, and his first-born,

Ex 4:22.

And in like manner the Gentiles earnestly expect and wait for such

a kind of manifestation of the sons of God, within and among

themselves. The Romans, to whom the apostle writes, knew well how

many predictions and promises it had pleased God to publish by his

prophets, concerning gathering together and adopting sons to

himself among the Gentiles; the manifestation of which sons the

whole Gentile world with a neck as it were stretched out, as the

word αποκαραδοκια implies, (απο, from, and καρα, the head,

and δοκαω, to expect,) doth now wait for." See the observations

at the end of this chapter.

Verse 20. For the creature was made subject to vanity] The

Gentile world were subject to vanity of mind; but how? not

willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same. May

we not say, it became vain willingly, but was made subject to

vanity unwillingly? For, let us recur to the origin of Gentilism,

the confusion of languages, by reason of the attempt to build the

tower of Babel; and though there are some passages in the gloss of

the Targumists upon this matter that are sufficiently ridiculous,

yet as to their scope and design they are worthy of notice. "They

said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, and let its head

reach unto the top of heaven; and let us make a house of worship

in the top of it; and let us put a sword in his hand that he may

wage war for us against our enemies, before we be scattered abroad

upon the face of the whole earth." It is an ancient tradition

among the Jews, that this tower was built on an idolatrous

account. The confusion of tongues, by which true religion was

lost in the world, is a proof that the builders of this tower

sinned against God in the highest degree. They were inclined to

vanity, i.e. idolatry, WILLINGLY; but they were subjected to

vanity UNWILLINGLY; for this proceeded from the just indignation

and vengeance of God. From this time the world lay under

heathenism till the bringing in of the Gospel, upwards of 2000

years after. See Lightfoot.

Verse 21. Because the creature] This and the preceding verse

should be thus connected: in hope THAT (οτι) the creature itself

also shall be delivered. The word φθορα denotes, very frequently,

sinful corruption. So, 2Pe 1:4:

Corruption through lust, τηςενεπιθυμιαφθορας. 2Co 11:3:

Lest your minds should be corrupted. 1Co 15:33:

Evil communications corrupt good manners. The sense, therefore,

of the apostle in this place seems to be: the Gentile world shall,

in time, be delivered from the bondage of their sinful corruption,

i.e. the bondage of their lusts and vile affections; and be

brought into such a noble liberty as the sons of God enjoy.

Verse 22. The whole creation groaneth and travaileth] If it

be inquired how the Gentile world groaned and travailed in pain;

let them who explain this of the fabric of the material world,

tell us how that groans and travails? They must needs own it to

be a borrowed and allusive phrase: but in the sense above given,

the very literal construction may be admitted.

Verse 23. And not only they, but ourselves also] Neither the

Gentiles only, but we Jews also, (however we belong to a nation

envious of the heathen,) to whom God hath granted the first fruits

of the Spirit; we sigh among ourselves for their sakes, waiting

for the adoption; that is, the redemption of our mystical body,

whereof the Gentiles make a very great part. Lightfoot's works.

vol. ii. p. 359 and 707.

The scope and design of St. Paul in these verses may be thus

summed up:-The apostle shows that the whole creation is in a

suffering state, into which it has been brought by the

disobedience of one man, Adam; therefore, it was made subject to

vanity-pain, sickness, and death; not willingly, for mankind had

no part in that transgression which "brought death into the world

and all our wo;" but God subjected the whole, purposing to afford

them a deliverance and infusing into every heart a hope that a

more auspicious era should take place; and it is through the

influence of this hope, which every man possesses, that the

present ills are so patiently borne, because all are expecting

better days. The great deliverer is the Messiah, and the Gospel

days the auspicious era which God intended to bring forward. They

who believe in Christ with a heart unto righteousness are freed

from the bondage of their sinful corruption, and brought into the

glorious liberty of the sons of God; and they look forward with

joyous expectation, waiting for the general resurrection, when

their bodies also shall be redeemed from corruption, and the whole

man, body and soul, be adopted into the family of heaven ABOVE,

as their souls had been previously adopted into the family of

faith BELOW. And although it may be said that the redemption

provided by the Gospel can not be an object of hope to those who

have never heard of it; yet, as every man has hope, and this hope

is inspired by God for this very purpose; that it may be the means

of supporting them in the ills of life, and God, in inspiring it,

had respect to the glorious state of Christianity, therefore it is

this state, in effect, that the whole creation are longing for. So

Jesus Christ is said, by the Prophet Haggai, Hag 2:7, to be

the desire of all nations; and yet not one of the nations of the

earth had, at that time, heard of him. And thus, as Dr. Whitby

has very properly remarked, "desire and expectation are ascribed

to creatures, in reference to things they want, and which tend to

their advantage; notwithstanding they explicitly know nothing of


Verse 24. For we are saved by hope] We are supported and are

comfortable in the expectation we have of receiving from the hand

of our God all the good we need in the troubles and adversities of

this life, and of having our bodies raised from corruption and

death at the general resurrection.

Hope that is seen is not hope] As hope signifies the

expectation of future good, so it necessarily supposes that the

object of it is not seen, i.e. not enjoyed; for to see, in

Scripture language, sometimes signifies to enjoy, as in Job 7:7:

Mine eye shall no more SEE (margin, ENJOY) good. Job 9:25:

My days flee away, and SEE no good; i.e. enjoy no prosperity.

Ps 50:23:

I will SHOW the salvation of God: I will give that man to enjoy

my salvation who walks uprightly. Mt 5:8:

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall SEE God; that is,

they shall enjoy his favour and blessing.

See also Joh 3:36; Heb 12:14, and 1Jo 3:2.

The hope that is seen, that is, enjoyed, is no longer hope, it

is fruition: and a man cannot hope for that which he has in his


Verse 25. But if we hope for that we see not] If we have a

well-grounded expectation of our resurrection and final

glorification, knowing that such things are necessarily future,

and must for a certain time be delayed; then do we patiently wait

for them, continue patiently to endure the common ills of life,

and whatever tribulations we may be exposed to in consequence of

our Christian profession; for we know, FAITHFUL is he who has

promised. Hope is a sort of universal blessing, and one of the

greatest which God has granted to man. To mankind, in general,

life would be intolerable without it; and it is as necessary as

faith is even to the followers of God.

The ancients have a very instructive and elegant fable

concerning it. "Prometheus having made a human body, went up to

heaven, and stole some celestial fire to animate it: Jupiter,

incensed at the theft, sent down Pandora, with a box full of

diseases and plagues of every kind, as an ensnaring present to

Prometheus; but he refused to accept it. Epimetheus took and

opened it, and instantly all those diseases, &c., by which mankind

have been made miserable, flew out, and spread themselves over the

whole earth; and only HOPE remained at the bottom of the box."

This fable explains itself, as to its main design. Men find life,

with its various and unavoidable ills, only supportable by the

hope they have of not only getting safely through them, but of

enjoying a state of blessedness in the end. Hope is still at the

bottom; and therefore man is encouraged to bear up in all the

pressures of life. Take away hope, and then black despair and

indescribable wretchedness would be the instant result. Hope

stands justly among the highest mercies of God.

Verse 26. The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities] The same

Spirit, τοπνευμα, mentioned before as bearing witness with ours

that we are the children of God; and consequently it is not a

disposition or frame of mind, for the disposition of our mind

surely cannot help the infirmities of our minds.

The word συναντιλαμβανεται is very inadequately expressed by

helpeth. It is compounded of συν, together, αντι, against,

and λαμβανομαι, to support or help, and signifies such assistance

as is afforded by any two persons to each other, who mutually bear

the same load or carry it between them. He who prays, receives

help from the Spirit of God; but he who prays not receives no such

help. Whatever our strength may be, we must put it forth, even

while most implicitly depending on the strength of God himself.

For we know not what we should pray for as we ought] And

should therefore be liable to endless mistakes in our prayers, if

suitable desires were not excited by the Holy Spirit and power

received to bring these desires, by prayer, before the throne of


But the Spirit itself] αυτοτοπνευμα, The same Spirit, viz.

the Spirit that witnesses of our adoption and sonship, Ro 8:15, 16,

makes intercession for us. Surely if the apostle had designed to

teach us that he meant our own sense and understanding by the

Spirit, he never could have spoken in a manner in which plain

common sense was never likely to comprehend his meaning. Besides,

how can it be said that our own spirit, our filial disposition,

bears witness with our own spirit; that our own spirit helps the

infirmities of our own spirit; that our own spirit teaches our own

spirit that of which it is ignorant; and that our own spirit

maketh intercession for our own spirit, with groanings

unutterable? This would have been both incongruous and absurd.

We must therefore understand these places of that help and

influence which the followers of God receive from the Holy Ghost;

and consequently, of the fulfilment of the various promises

relative to this point which our Lord made to his disciples,

particularly in Joh 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26, 27; 16:7; and

particularly Joh 16:13, 14:

Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you

into all truth; and he will show you things to come. He shall

glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto


Verse 27. He maketh intercession for the saints] The word

εντυγχανω signifies to apply one's self to a person in behalf of

another; to intercede or negotiate for. Our Lord makes

intercession for us, by negotiating and managing, as our friend

and agent, all the affairs pertaining to our salvation. And the

Spirit of God makes intercession for the saints, not by

supplication to God on their behalf, but by directing and

qualifying their supplications in a proper manner, by his agency

and influence upon their hearts; which, according to the Gospel

scheme, is the peculiar work and office of the Holy Spirit.

See Taylor.

According to the will of God.] καταθεον. According to the

mind, intention, or design of God. And thus the prayers which we

offer up, and the desires which subsist in the unutterable

groanings, are all such as are pleasing in the sight of God. So

that God, whose is the Spirit, and who is acquainted with the mind

of the Spirit, knows what he means when he leads the saints to

express themselves in words, desires, groans, sighs, or tears: in

each God reads the language of the Holy Ghost, and prepares the

answer according to the request.

From all this we learn that a fluency in prayer is not

essential to praying: a man may pray most powerfully in the

estimation of God, who is not able to utter even one word. The

unutterable groan is big with meaning, and God understands it,

because it contains the language of his own Spirit. Some desires

are too mighty to be expressed; there is no language expressive

enough to give them proper form and distinct vocal sound: such

desires show that they came from God; and as they came from him,

so they express what God is disposed to do, and what he has

purposed to do. This is a matter of great encouragement to all

those who are agonizing to enter in at the strait gate.

Verse 28. And we know that all things work together for good

to them that love God] To understand this verse aright, let us

observe: 1. That the persons in whose behalf all things work for

good are they who love God, and, consequently, who live in the

spirit of obedience. 2. It is not said that all things shall work

for good, but that συνεργει, they work now in the behalf of him

who loveth now, αγαπωσι; for both verbs are in the present tense.

3. All these things work together; while they are working, God's

providence is working, his Spirit is working, and they are working

TOGETHER with him. And whatever troubles, or afflictions, or

persecutions may arise, God presses them into their service; and

they make a part of the general working, and are caused to

contribute to the general good of the person who now loves God,

and who is working by faith and love under the influence and

operation of the Holy Ghost. They who say sin works for good to

them that love God speak blasphemous nonsense. A man who now

loves God is not now sinning against God; and the promise belongs

only to the present time: and as love is the true incentive to

obedience, the man who is entitled to the promise can never, while

thus entitled, (loving God,) be found in the commission of sin.

But though this be a good general sense for these words, yet the

all things mentioned here by the apostle seem more particularly to

mean those things mentioned in Ro 8:28-30.

To them who are the called according to his purpose.] Dr.

Taylor translates τοιςκλητοις, the invited; and observes that it

is a metaphor taken from inviting guests, or making them welcome

to a feast. As if he had said: Certainly all things work together

for their good; for this reason, because they are called, invited,

or made welcome to the blessings of the covenant, (which is

ratified in eating of the covenant sacrifice,) according to God's

original purpose first declared to Abraham, Ge 17:4:

Thou shalt be a father of many nations-and all the nations of the

earth shall be blessed in him, Ge 18:18. Thus this clause is to

be understood; and thus it is an argument to prove that all

things, how afflictive soever, shall work for our good while we

continue to love God. Our being called or invited, according to

God's purpose, proves that all things work for our good, on the

supposition that we love God, and not otherwise. For our loving

God, or making a due improvement of our calling, is evidently

inserted by the apostle to make good his argument. He does not

pretend to prove that all things shall concur to the everlasting

happiness of all that are called; but only to those of the called

who love God. Our calling, thus qualified is the ground of his

argument, which he prosecutes and completes in the two next

verses. Our calling he takes for granted, as a thing evident and

unquestionable among all Christians. But you will say: How is it

evident and unquestionable that we are called? I answer: From our

being in the visible Church, and professing the faith of the

Gospel. For always, in the apostolic writings, all that are in

the visible Church, and profess the faith of the Gospel, are

numbered among the called or invited; i.e. among the persons who

are invited to feast on the covenant sacrifice, and who thus, in

reference to themselves, confirm and ratify the covenant. As for

what is termed effectual calling, as distinguished from the

general invitations of the Gospel, it is a distinction which

divines have invented without any warrant from the sacred

writings. Our calling, therefore, is considered by the apostle in

the nature of a self-evident proposition, which nobody doubts or

denies; or which, indeed, no Christian ought to doubt, or can call

in question, Taylor's notes.

Verse 29. For whom he did foreknow, &c.] "In this and the

following verse the apostle shows how our calling is an argument

that all things work together to advance our eternal happiness, by

showing the several steps which the wisdom and goodness of God

have settled, in order to complete our salvation. In order to

this he first gives us, in this verse, the foundation and

finishing, or the beginning and end, of the scheme of our

redemption: For whom God did foreknow, he also did predestinate to

be conformed to the image of his Son. To foreknow, here signifies

to design before, or at the first forming of the scheme; to bestow

the favour and privilege of being God's people upon any set of

men, Ro 11:2.

This is the foundation or first step of our salvation; namely, the

purpose and grace of God, which was given us in Christ Jesus,

before the world began, 2Ti 1:9.

Then, he knew or favoured us; for in this sense the word to know

is taken in a great variety of places, both in the Old and New

Testaments. And as he knew the GENTILES then, when the scheme was

laid, and before any part of it was executed, consequently, in

reference to the execution of this scheme, he foreknew us. This

is the first step of our salvation, and the end or finishing of it

is our conformity to the Son of God in eternal glory, Ro 8:17,

which includes and supposes our moral conformity to him. When God

knew us, at the forming of the Gospel scheme; or, when he intended

to bestow on us the privilege of being his people; he then

destinated or designed us to be conformed to the image of his Son;

and, as he destinated or determined us then to this very high

honour and happiness, he pre-destinated, fore-ordained, or

pre-determined us to it. Thus we are to understand the foundation

and finishing of the scheme of our salvation. The foundation is the

foreknowledge, or gracious purpose of God; the finishing is our

being joint heirs with Christ. Now, our calling or invitation

(See Clarke on Ro 8:28) stands in connection with both these. 1. It

stands in connection with God's foreknowledge; and so it is a true

and valid calling: for we are called, invited, or chosen according

to the foreknowledge of God the Father, who may bestow his

blessings upon any people, as may seem good in his sight, 1Pe 1:2;

consequently, we have a good title to the blessings of the Gospel

to which we are called or invited. And this was to be proved,

that the Jew, to whom the apostle particularly wrote, might see

that the Gentiles being now called into the Church of God was not

an accidental thing, but a matter which God had determined when he

conceived the Gospel scheme. Thus our calling is connected with

God's foreknowledge. 2. It stands also in connection with our

being conformed to the image of his Son; for we are invited by the

Gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,

2Th 2:14. And therefore, supposing, what the apostle supposes,

that we love God, it is certain, from our being called, that we

shall be glorified with the sons of God; and so our calling proves

the point, that all things should work together for our good in

our present state, because it proves that we are intended for

eternal glory; as he shows in the next verse. For we must

understand his foreknowing, predestinating, calling, and

justifying, in relation to his glorifying; and that none are

finally glorified, but those who, according to his purpose, are

conformed to the image of his Son." Taylor.

The first-born among many brethren.] That he might be the

chief or head of all the redeemed; for HIS human nature is the

first fruits of the resurrection from the dead; and He is the

first human being that, after having passed through death, was

raised to eternal glory. See Dr. Taylor.

Verse 30. Whom he did predestinate, &c.] The Gentiles, whom

He determined to call into his Church with the Jewish people, He

called-He invited by the preaching of the Gospel, to believe on

his Son Jesus Christ. It is worthy of note, that all that is

spoken here refers to what had already taken place; for the

calling, justifying, and glorifying are here represented as having

already taken place, as well as the foreknowing and the

predestinating. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that the

apostle refers to what God had already done among the Jews and

Gentiles: though he may also speak of the things that were not as

though they were.

He also justified] Pardoned the sins of all those who with

hearty repentance and true faith turned unto him.

He also glorified.] He has honoured and dignified the Gentiles

with the highest privileges, and he has already taken many of them

to the kingdom of glory, and many more are on their way thither;

and all who love him, and continue faithful unto death, shall

inherit that glory eternally. Hence it is added, them he also

glorified; for all the honours which he confers on them have

respect to and are intended to promote their endless felicity; and

though the terms are here used in a more general sense, yet, if we

take them more restrictedly, we must consider that in the work of

justification sanctification is implied; justification being the

foundation and beginning of that work. From all this we learn

that none will be glorified who have not been sanctified and

justified; that the justified are those who have been called or

invited by the Gospel of Christ; that those who have had this

calling are they to whom God determined to grant this

privilege-they did not choose this salvation first, but God sent

it to them when they knew him not-and therefore the salvation of

the Gentile world, as well as that of the Jews, comes through the

gratuitous mercy of God himself, was the result of infinite

designs, and stands on the same ground as the calling, &c., of the

Jewish people. The word δοξα, which we render glory, and δοξαζω,

to glorify, both mean to render illustrious, eminent, &c., &c., in

various parts of the New Testament; and in this sense the verb is

used Joh 11:4; 12:23, 28; 13:31, 32; 14:13; 15:8; 21:19;

Ac 3:13; 11:13;

in none of which places eternal beatification can be intended.

Here it seems to mean that those whom God had called into a state

of justification he had rendered illustrious by innumerable gifts,

graces, and privileges, in the same manner as he had done to the

Israelites of old.

The whole of the preceding discourse will show that every thing

here is conditional, as far as it relates to the ultimate

salvation of any person professing the Gospel of Christ; for the

promises are made to character, and not to persons, as some have

most injudiciously affirmed. The apostle insists upon a character

all along from the beginning of the chapter. Ro 8:1:

There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who

walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Ro 8:13:

If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die, &c. The absolute

necessity of holiness to salvation is the very subject of his

discourse; this necessity he positively affirms, and establishes

by the most solid arguments. At the very entrance of his argument

here, he takes care to settle the connection between our calling

and our love and obedience to God, on purpose to prevent that

mistake into which so many have fallen, through their great

inattention to the scope of his reasoning. Ro 8:28:

All things work together for good-To whom? To THEM that LOVE

GOD: to them that are the called according to his purpose. To

them that love God, because they are called according to his

purpose; for those only who love God can reap any benefit by this

predestination, vocation, or any other instance of God's favour.

See the observations at the end of this chapter.

Verse 31. What shall we then say to these things?] What

conclusion should we draw from the above premises? From all that

was already laid down in the preceding chapters, but especially in

the preceding verses, from Ro 8:28-30 inclusive. As if he had

said: What comfort may we derive from these doctrines? God has

called us all to holiness, and to love to him, which is the

principle of holiness. We are persecuted and despised, it is

true, and we may be more so; but, as God has called us to love

him, and all things work together for good to them that love him;

and, as his covenant with Abraham, while he was in his Gentile

state, shows his gracious purpose towards us Gentiles, whom he has

foreknown, who have been objects of his gracious foreknowledge, as

well as the Jews, and who have now the fullest proof that we were

so, by his sending us the Gospel, and showing us, in it, that if

the Israelites were to be a holy priesthood, a royal nation, we

are no less favoured, as he has predestinated, from the beginning

determined, that we should be conformed to the image of his Son,

who is to be the first-born among many brethren, the head and

chief of all converted Jews and Gentiles, and, in order to our

final salvation, has called, invited us to believe on the Lord

Jesus Christ, has justified those who do believe, and has

glorified, highly honoured, and adorned them with innumerable

gifts and graces, and, if they continue to possess that faith

which worketh by love, will bring them, both body and soul, to his

eternal glory, their bodies being made like unto his glorious

body:-seeing, therefore, all these things are so, what comfort in

our tribulations shall we derive from them?-Why this: If God be

for us, who can be against us? He who is infinitely wise has

undertaken to direct us: He who is infinitely powerful has

undertaken to protect us: He who is infinitely good has undertaken

to save us. What cunning, strength, or malice, can prevail

against his wisdom, power, and goodness? None. Therefore we are

safe who love God; and not only shall sustain no essential damage

by the persecutions of ungodly men, but even these things work

together for our good.

Verse 32. He that spared not his own Son] And can we, his

sincere followers, doubt of the safety of our state, or the

certainty of his protection? No: for if he loved us, Gentiles and

Jews, so intensely as to deliver up to death his own Son for us

all, can he withhold from us any minor blessing? Nay, will he

not, on the contrary, freely give us all things? For if he told

Abraham, who is the father of the faithful, and representative of

us all, and with whom the covenant was made, that, because he had

not withheld from him his only son Isaac, but delivered him up to

that death which he thought his God had required, in blessing, he

would bless him; and in multiplying, he would multiply him; that

his seed should possess the gate of his enemies; and that in it

all the nations of the earth should be blessed, Ge 22:16-19; will

HE not give US all that was spiritually intended by these

promises, whose only begotten Son was not sacrificed in a figure,

but really, in order to purchase every blessing that the soul of

man can need and that the hand of God can dispense.

Verse 33. This and the two following verses contain a string

of questions, most appropriately introduced and most powerfully

urged, tending to show the safety of the state of those who have

believed the Gospel of the grace of God. I shall lay these verses

down as they are pointed by the best Greek critics:-

"Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?-God who

justifieth? Who is he that condemneth?-Christ who died? or,

rather, who is risen again? He, who is at the right hand of God?

He, who maketh intercession for us? Who shall separate us from

the love of Christ?-Tribulation? or distress? or persecution? or

famine? or nakedness? or peril? or sword?" In all these questions

the apostle intimates that if neither GOD nor CHRIST would bring

any charge against them who love him, none else could. And as God

justifies through Christ who died, consequently no charge can lie

against these persons, as God alone could produce any; and He, so

far from doing this, has justified them-freely forgiven their


For the proper meaning and sense of the terms chosen, elect,

called, &c., &c., see the discourse prefixed to this epistle; and

especially sect. vi. p. 19, &c., and sect. vii. p. 23, &c.

Verse 34. Who is even at the right hand of God] To which he

has exalted our human nature, which he took in conjunction with

his Divinity; and there he maketh intercession for us-manages all

the concerns of his own kingdom in general, and of every member of

his Church in particular.

Verse 35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?] I

do think that this question has been generally misunderstood. The

apostle is referring to the persecutions and tribulations to which

genuine Christians were exposed through their attachment to

Christ, and the gracious provision God had made for their support

and final salvation. As in this provision God had shown his

infinite love to them in providing Jesus Christ as their

sin-offering, and Jesus Christ had shown his love in suffering

death upon the cross for them; so, here, he speaks of the love of

the followers of God to that Christ who had first loved them.

Therefore the question is not, Who shall separate the love of

Christ from us? or prevent Christ from loving us? but, Who shall

separate us from the love of Christ? Who or what shall be able

to remove our affection from him? And the questions that

immediately follow show that this is the sense of the passage; for

the tribulation, distress, &c., which he enumerates, are things by

which they might be affected, but by which Christ could not be

affected; and, consequently, the question most evidently refers to

their love to him who had first loved them, and, while it affords

a strong presumption of their perseverance, furnishes a most

powerful argument against apostasy.

Shall tribulation?] φλιψις, grievous affliction, or distress

of any kind; from φλιβω, to compress, oppress, straiten, &c.; any

thing by which a man is rendered miserable.

Or distress?] στενοχωρια, a word of nearly the same import

with the former, but more intense in its signification. It

signifies straitness, being hemmed in on every side, without the

possibility of getting out or escaping; from στενος, strait or

narrow, and χωρος, a place.

Or persecution?] διωγμος, from διωκω, to pursue, press upon,

prosecute, signifies such pursuing as an enemy uses in order to

overtake the object of his malice, that he may destroy him.

Or famine?] λιμος, from λειπω, to fail; the total want of

bread, and all the necessaries of life.

Or nakedness?] γυμνοτης, being absolutely without clothing;

forcibly expressed by the derivation of the word γυιαμοναεχων,

having one's limbs only, being totally unclothed.

Or peril?] κινδυνος, a state of extreme and continued danger,

perplexing and distressing with grievous forebodings and alarms;

derived from κινειταςοδυνας, it excites anguish; because much

evil is felt, and much more feared.

Or sword?] μαχαιρα, slaughter; the total destruction of life,

and especially beheading, and such like, done by the order of the

civil magistrate; for the word is used in this epistle, Ro 13:4,

to signify the authority and power which he has of judicially

terminating life; i.e. of inflicting capital punishment.

Verse 36. As it is written] And these are no more than we may

naturally expect from the present constitution of the world, and

the positive predictions of the prophet, Ps 44:22, who foresaw

that a wicked world would always persecute and oppress the true

followers of God.

Verse 37. Nay] as the prophet adds in the same place, all

this is come upon us, yet have we not forgotten thee, nor dealt

falsely in thy covenant, Ro 8:17, 18, so all these things may

happen unto us; but in all these things we are more than

conquerors; WE abide faithful in the new covenant of our God; and

HE is faithful who has promised to support and make us more than

conquerors; i.e. to give us a complete triumph over sin, and

death, and hell, not leaving one enemy unsubdued.

Verse 38. For I am persuaded] After the blessed experience we

have had of support by the grace and Spirit of him that loved us,

that neither fear of death, nor hope of life, nor evil angels,

nor principalities, nor powers, persecuting us for Christ's sake;

nor the things we endure at present, nor the things to come,

whatever tribulation we may be called to suffer in future;

Verse 39. Nor height-of honour, nor depth-of ignominy, nor any

other creature, ουτετιςκτισιςετερα, (nor any other thing

whatever,) shall be able to separate us, who love God, from the

love of God, which he has vouchsafed to us in Christ Jesus. See

Whitby. And for farther observations on the subject of the 29th

and 30th verses, see at the end of the chapter.

1. THE confidence expressed by the apostle at the end of this

chapter, is as rational as it is bold. On the premises laid down

by him, in reference to which he has most logically conducted his

whole argument, the conclusion to which he arrives is as natural

and forcible as it is legitimate. The permanency of the Christian

Church, in all the tribulations it has endured from pagans and

papists, is a full proof of the correctness of the apostle's

reasoning. The true followers of Christ can never be forsaken by

him. And his Church, which is founded on the rock, can never be

shaken down by the tempests of persecution. And what God does for

his Church in general, (the collective body of those who believe

in the Lord Jesus, love, and obey him,) he does for every

individual in that body: no man that trusts in him can be

confounded. While the love of God is in his heart, and the work

of God in his hand, he may be as fully persuaded as he is of his

own being, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor

principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to

come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other thing whatsoever, shall

be able to separate him from the love of God which is in Christ

Jesus. The reader who has any knowledge of what is great,

commanding, and sublime in composition, will not hesitate to add

here, with Dr. Taylor: "The conclusion of this chapter is the most

elegant and sublime piece of writing I remember ever to have read.

It is founded on the grand and solid principles of the Gospel; it

breathes the true spirit of Christian magnanimity; raises our

minds far above all things created; and shows, in a bright and

heavenly view, the greatness of soul and the strong consolation

which the Gospel inspires. God grant that it may stand clear

before our understandings, and be transcribed into all our hearts!

They who despise the Gospel despise all that is great, and happy,

and glorious!"

2. The doctrine of the necessity of personal holiness, so

clearly and strongly laid down in the former part of this chapter,

should be deeply considered by every person professing godliness;

and while from the seventh chapter they learn that they have an

infected and morally diseased nature, they should learn from the

eighth that to destroy the work of the devil was Jesus Christ

manifested; and that no soul can be said to be saved by Jesus

Christ who is not saved from its sins. What a full proof is it of

the fallen state of man, that there should be found persons

professing Christianity more fervent in their pleadings for the

necessary continuance of indwelling sin, than they are for the

mind that was in Christ. The seventh chapter, because there are

some expressions which, being misunderstood, seem to favour this

doctrine, is read and incessantly quoted: the eighth chapter,

though given by the same inspiration, yet because it so strongly

shows the necessity of being saved from all sin, is seldom read

and scarcely ever quoted!

3. The restoration of the brute creation to a state of

happiness has been thought by several to be the doctrine of

Ro 8:19-25. In the notes on those verses I have given reasons

against this opinion, and have proved that the Gentiles, and not

the irrational part of the creation, are the persons of whom the

apostle speaks; nor can any consistent interpretation be given of

the place, if it be applied to the brute creation. But, although

this doctrine is not contained in the above verses, it does not

follow that the doctrine itself is not true. Indeed, there are

several reasons which render the supposition very probable. 1.

The brute creation never sinned against God, nor are they capable

of it, and consequently cannot be justly liable to punishment.

2. But the whole brute creation is in a state of suffering, and

partake of the common infirmities and privations of life, as well

as mankind: they suffer, but who can say that they suffer justly?

3. As they appear to be necessarily involved in the sufferings of

sinful man, and yet neither through their fault nor their folly,

it is natural to suppose that the Judge of all the earth, who ever

does right, will find some means by which these innocent creatures

shall be compensated for their sufferings. 4. That they have no

compensation here, their afflictions, labours, and death prove;

and if they are to have any compensation, they must have it in

another state. 5. God, the fountain of all goodness, must have

originally designed them for that measure of happiness which is

suited to the powers with which he had endowed them; but, since

the fall of man, they never had that happiness; and, in their

present circumstances, never can. 6. In reference to intelligent

beings, God has formed his purposes in reference to their

happiness on the ground of their rational natures. He has decreed

that they shall be happy if they will, all the means of it being

placed within their power; and, if they be ultimately miserable,

it is the effect of their own unconstrained choice. Therefore his

purpose is fulfilled, either in their happiness or misery; because

he has purposed that they shall be happy if they please, and that

misery shall be the result of their refusal. 7. But it does not

appear that the brute creation are capable of this choice; and it

is evident that they are not placed in their present misery

through either their choice or their sin; and if no purpose of God

can be ultimately frustrated, these creatures must be restored to

that state of happiness for which they have been made, and of

which they have been deprived through the transgression of man.

8. To say that the enjoyments which they have in this life are a

sufficient compensation, is most evidently false; for, had not sin

entered into the world, they would have had much greater

enjoyments, without pain, excessive labour and toil, and without

death, and all those sufferings which arise from its predisposing

causes. Nor does it appear that they have much happiness from

eating, drinking, and rest, as they have these only in the

proportion in which they are necessary to their existence as the

slaves of men. Therefore, allowing that they have even

gratification and enjoyment in life, they have much less than they

would have had had not sin entered into the world; and

consequently they have been deprived of the greater portion of the

happiness designed for them by their bountiful Creator. 9. It is

therefore obvious that the gracious purpose of God has not been

fulfilled in them; and that, as they have not lost their happiness

through their own fault, both the beneficence and justice of God

are bound to make them a reparation. 10. Hence it is reasonable

to conclude that, as from the present constitution of things they

cannot have the happiness designed for them in this state, they

must have it in another.

4. On the subject of the foreknowledge of God, some

observations have been made at the conclusion of the notes on the

second chapter of Acts. On the subject of the prescience and

predestination mentioned here, Ro 8:29, 30, vast volumes have

been written, and the Christian world greatly agitated and

perplexed. These doctrines of men have very little place in the

texts in question. After a long and serious investigation of this

business, I am led to conclude that, whether the doctrine of the

decrees be true or false, it does not exist in these verses.

No portion of the word of God has been more unhappily

misunderstood than several parts of the Epistle to the Romans;

because men have applied to individuals what belongs to nations;

and referred to eternity transactions which have taken place in


We have already seen that one grand aim of the apostle in

writing this epistle was: 1. To prove, to both Jews and Gentiles,

that they were all under sin, and that neither of them had any

claim either on the justice or beneficence of God; yet he, of his

own free mercy, had revealed himself to the Jews, and crowned them

with innumerable privileges; and, 2. That, as he was no respecter

of persons, his mercy was as free to the Gentiles as to them,

being equally their God as he was the God of the Jews, and

therefore had, by the Gospel, called them to a state of salvation;

and to this display of his mercy the two verses in question seem

particularly to refer, and show us not what God will do for some

selected individuals, but what he has already done for nations.

After having shown that the whole Gentile world was groaning

and travailing in pain together, waiting for the manifestation of

the sons of God, he shows that it was, according to the

affectionate purpose, προθεσιν, of God, that the Gentiles should

be also called into the glorious liberty of the sons of God-into

equal privileges with the Jews. He therefore represents them as

objects of God's gracious foreknowledge. That the word

προγινωσκω, which literally signifies to know, or discern

beforehand, and to know so as to determine, signifies also to

approve, or love before, to be well affected to, is not only

evident from yada in Hebrew, but also from the simple verb

γινωσκω, in Greek, by which it is translated, and to which the

compound verb repeatedly answers, without any extension of meaning

by means of the preposition, as its use among the best Greek

writers proves: and it is evident that the apostle uses the word

in the sense of loving, being graciously affected to, Ro 11:1, 2.

I say then, hath God cast away his people, which he FOREKNEW,

ονπροεγνω; to whom he has been so long graciously affected? By

no means. As, therefore, he had been so long graciously affected

towards the Jews, so has he towards the Gentiles. His call of

Abraham, and the promises made to him, are the proof of it. The

Jews, thus foreknown, were called into a glorious state of

salvation, and endowed with privileges the most extraordinary ever

bestowed on any people; as their whole history testifies. But is

God the God of the Jews only? Is he not also the God of the

Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, Ro 3:29; and to prove this

is the main subject of the ninth chapter. Now, as he is the God

of the Gentiles, he foreknew, had from the beginning a gracious

purpose to them as well as to the Jews; and, being thus graciously

disposed towards them, he determined προωρισε, from προ, before,

and οριζω, to bound, define, &c., he defined, circumscribed, and

determined the boundaries of this important business from the

beginning, that they also should be taken into his Church, and

conformed to the image of his Son; and, as Jesus Christ was to be

their pattern, it must be by his Gospel that they should be

brought into the Church; and consequently, that bringing in could

not take place before the revelation of Christ. Having therefore

thus foreknown and thus predestinated them ALSO, he called them

ALSO by the Gospel; he justified them ALSO on their believing; and

he glorified them ALSO, dignified them also with the same

privileges, blessings, honours, and Divine gifts: so that they

were now what the Jews had been before, the peculiar people of

God. The apostle, therefore, speaks here not of what they should

be, or of what they might be, but of what they then were-the

called, the justified, the highly honoured of God.

See Clarke on Ro 8:30.

It is strange that so obvious a meaning of the passage should

not have been noticed; but the word δοξαζω, which we render to

glorify, and by which we understand eternal beatification, which

it is very seldom used to express, being taken in this sense in

the passage in question, fixed the meaning of the preceding terms;

and thus the whole passage was applied to things eternal, which

had reference only to things in time. This seems to me to be the

true key of the passage, and the whole scope of the epistle, and

especially of the context, which shows that this is the sense in

which it should be understood. The passages understood in this

way illustrate the infinite mercy and wisdom of God; they show

that whatever appearances his providential dealings may assume of

partiality towards any particular people, yet he is equally the

Father of the spirits of all flesh; hateth nothing that he hath

made; is loving to all; that his tender mercies are over all his

works; and that he is not willing that any should perish, but that

all should come unto the knowledge of the truth and be saved.

Hence, whatever he did for the Jews he purposed to do for the

Gentiles: if he foreknew, predestinated, called, justified, and

glorified the former; he ALSO foreknew, predestinated, called,

justified, and glorified the latter; having brought them into the

same state of salvation, with a vast extension of blessings and

higher degrees of honour. As the Jews forfeited their privileges,

and now, instead of being glorified, instead of being highly

honoured, and rendered illustrious, they are degraded, brought

down, and rendered contemptible; because they have not made a

proper use of their election, they are now reprobated; so a

similar reverse awaits the Gentiles if they sin after the

similitude of their transgression; and it is against this that the

apostle so solemnly warns them, Ro 11:20-22:

Because of unbelief they (the Jews) were broken off-thou (the

Gentiles) standest by faith. If God spared not the NATURAL

BRANCHES, take heed lest he also spare not THEE. Behold the

goodness and severity of God! on them which FELL severity; but

toward THEE goodness, IF THOU CONTINUE in his goodness; otherwise


5. This is also a lesson of solemn instruction to Christians in

general: God has called them into a glorious state of salvation,

and has furnished them with every requisite help to enable them to

work out that salvation with fear and trembling. As it is an

awful thing to receive the grace of God in vain, (whether that

grace imply the common benefits of the Gospel, or those especial

blessings received by believing souls,) so every person professing

godliness should be jealous over himself lest he should trifle

with matters of eternal moment; for, should he even neglect so

great a salvation, his escape would be impossible. Heb 2:3;

and if so, to what severe punishment must they be exposed who

despise and reject it?

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